The last time I trained an in-house legal department, I asked every group manager this question: if I could leave a silver bullet behind, what would it be?
The response was unanimous from this well-run Fortune 500 Company: fix our relationship with the __________ Department: it chronically undermines our negotiations with outsiders. The _________ Department was the only one sending none of its people to the two-day negotiation training. An executive friend of mine said, "that's not surprising - no one can see a black hole."
This month's Harvard Business Review sees the black hole in every negotiation team in its September '09 must-read article, How to Manage Your Negotiating Team by Jeanne M. Brett, Ray Friedman, and Kristin Behfar.
Despite the _________ Department's absence, I created groups of in-house attendees who represented each internal department and asked them to generate a list of the interests of their negotiating teams, including the _________ department, which is one of the recommendations made by Brett, Friedman and Behfar.
There's an executive summary at the link above but I'd shell out the money for a copy of the print magazine to have the full text of this article. Here are the recommendations of the experts:
- Plot out the conflicts
- Work with constituents
- Mediate conflicts of interest
- Persuade with data
- simulate the negotiation
- assign roles to capitalize on team members strengths and interests
- establish a plan for intrateam communication
I'll write a post a day about each of these strategies when I return from vacation. In the meantime, litigators who work with teams inside the firm; who defend complex litigation with joint defense groups; and, who must bargain with others with very different interests (construction litigation comes to mind) should be thinking of the ways in which integrated negotiation planning could maximize the settlement benefits to be gained by strategic partners.